Southwest Baptist University

Southwest Baptist University

Founded in 1878, Southwest Baptist University (SBU) is a private Christian college in Bolivar, Missouri. It is affiliated with the Missouri Baptist Convention, which is part of the Southern Baptist Convention. The institution was first accredited by the Higher Learning Commission in 1957.

Southwest Baptist University’s ranking in the 2022 edition of Best Colleges is Regional Universities Midwest is #117. SBU’s generous scholarship and financial aid packages have given them the distinction of being one of America’s Best College Buys every year since 1996!

According to SBU’s mission statement, “Southwest Baptist University is a Christ-centered, caring academic community preparing students to be servant leaders in a global society.” At SBU, they believe that all humankind – regardless of race or skin color – is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27).

One of SBU’s core values, “Compassion and Care for the SBU family,” states, “Scripture teaches that all individuals are worthy in the eyes of God. Therefore, we will honor and serve one another in love” (Romans 12:9-10).

SBU students are equipped for a lifetime of success as they experience growth academically, personally, and spiritually. At SBU, you will benefit from:

  • Integration of Christian faith with quality academics
  • Highly qualified professors who genuinely care
  • Small class sizes and personalized support
  • Chapel services and small group Bible studies
  • Domestic and global mission projects
  • Competitive academic teams that are nationally recognized in multiple disciplines
  • University Success Center one-on-one academic advisement and career guidance
  • Fantastic job placement and grad school acceptance rates
  • Vibrant campus life with more than 35 clubs and organizations
  • 18 NCAA Division II athletic sports


SBU received an “A” rating from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) for their general education curriculum. SBU is one of just 24 institutions in the entire nation and the only school in Missouri to receive this rating!

At SBU, students can choose from more than 100 areas of study. The most popular majors include:

  • Registered Nursing/Registered Nurse
  • Elementary Education and Teaching
  • Exercise Science and Kinesiology
  • Business Administration and Management
  • Psychology
  • Social Work
  • Theological and Ministerial Studies
  • Biology/Biological Sciences
  • Computer Science
  • Health and Medical Administrative Services

But there are lots more! Use SBU’s degree program tool to explore academic programs that fit your gifts and interests!

Looking for an alternative to the defined class sessions of in-person college courses? Southwest Baptist University offers a variety of online courses and degree programs.

Campus Life

SBU students enjoy a tight-knit community both on- and off-campus. In 2020, Southwest Baptist University had a total enrollment of 2,379, with a gender distribution of 37% male students and 63% female students. The average student-faculty ratio is 12:1, and 80% of classes have fewer than 20 students. With such small class sizes, you’ll get to know all of your classmates and professors as both scholars and friends.

SBU’s main residential campus is located in a rural setting, with a campus size of 152 acres in Bolivar, Missouri. Bolivar is a small town (pop. 10,300) at the edge of the Missouri Ozarks. You will have plenty of opportunities to explore the local area and get involved in the community known for its “neighbors, character, identity, strong heritage and faith.”

At Southwest Baptist University, Christian standards are integrated into all aspects of campus life. Alcohol is not permitted even for students of legal age. 43% of students live in college-owned, -operated or -affiliated housing and 57% of students live off campus. Additional SBU campuses are located in Mountain View, Salem, and Springfield.

With more than 35 student-led clubs and organizations at SBU, there are a wide variety of ways to plug into the campus community. Choose from groups such as SBU’s Student Association, University Activities Council, academic and professional organizations, performance groups, social awareness groups, and special interest clubs – and discover how you can find your place at SBU!


Southwest Baptist University athletic teams compete in the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC). The university currently fields 18 NCAA Division II varsity sports. SBU was also one of the first schools to establish a varsity collegiate esports team and is a charter member of the Collegiate Esports Association (CESPA). SBU added a Cheer and STUNT team beginning in the 2018-19 season.

A recent addition to the Shoffner campus is the Jane and Ken Meyer Wellness and Sports Center. This facility houses an indoor track, intramural gym, fitness center, pool, café, racquetball courts, rock wall, and Hammons Court, the home of Bearcat Basketball.


Southwest Baptist University admissions is selective with an acceptance rate of 74%. SBU is test-optional for admission. However, submitting ACT, SAT or CLT test scores could potentially improve your academic scholarship eligibility.

Half the applicants admitted to Southwest Baptist have an SAT score between 953 and 1148 or an ACT score of 19 and 25. However, one quarter of admitted applicants achieved scores above these ranges and one quarter scored below these ranges.

At Southwest Baptist University, 81% of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid, and the average need-based scholarship or grant award is $11,194.

Homeschool Students

Homeschooled students are an important part of the Southwest Baptist University student body. The SBU website includes resources for homeschoolers to help you and your family navigate the admissions process and transition to college.

Like all applicants for freshman admission to SBU, they will require a transcript of your completed work for 9th through 12th grades. It can be submitted by your teaching parents. The homeschool transcript should include the following information:

  • Student’s full name and date of birth
  • Course titles, grades received and credit earned for each semester
  • Grading scale used
  • Cumulative GPA
  • Graduation date

For you convenience, they have created a homeschool transcript template you may download and use.

If you earn credit from courses taken through other colleges or universities, send an official college transcript to have those credits transferred to SBU. You can also earn college credit through Advanced Placement (AP) and College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests.

You can get a head start on your college academics and enrich your homeschool experience by enrolling in an online dual credit course through SBU. Learn from SBU’s highly qualified faculty while working at your own pace through a flexible, online course delivery.

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